Let's be clear: Hashtagging this sort of indignity "TSAstruggles" is being overly polite. The inspection of passengers provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been a colossal waste of resources and time. Additionally, the process has normalized the sort of degradation captured above.
Exactly two things have made air travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers that they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money. Add screening of checked bags and airport workers and we are done. All the rest is security theatre. If we truly want to be safer, we should return airport security to pre-9/11 levels and spend the savings on intelligence, investigation and emergency response.
The TSA's latest innovation—identifying people in airports for extra-intense scrutiny—received a withering evaluation last fall as well:
The Government Accountability Office said its investigation found that the results of the TSA program -- called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques -- were "no better than chance." Under the program, agents identify suspicious looking people and talk to them to determine whether they pose a threat. The investigators looked at the screening program at four airports, chosen on the basis of size and other factors.
"TSA has yet to empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of the program despite spending about $900 million on it since 2007," said Steve Lord, who directed the investigation for the GAO. He said the GAO, which is the research and investigative arm of Congress, "conducts active oversight of the TSA for the Congress given their multibillion-dollar budget." He said "the behavior detection program is viewed as a key layer of aviation security."
But it's all a small price to pay to win the War on Terror, right?